A burglar who tried to squeeze into a Haydon Wick home while the occupants were on holiday has been jailed - on his birthday.

Sending George Mullard down for 20 months, Judge Jason Taylor QC warned the 24-year-old he needed to overcome his struggles with addiction and poor mental health or he risked spending his life behind bars.

He had been spared an immediate jail sentence last year after he admitted burgling homes in a spree that lasted three months in 2018.

That September he broke into a house on Saffron Close, Royal Wootton Bassett, and stole a £900 gold sovereign ring and a £500 Gucci watch. He used a Sharpie pen to scrawl an offensive word across the living room wall.

Days earlier he had broken into his grandmother’s home on Bassett High Street.

And that raid came two months after he burgled her next door neighbour, stealing £4,000 diamond earrings, a silver chain and a £369 Apple watch.

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George Mullard Picture: WILTSHIRE POLICE

The cocaine and ketamine addict was initially given a deferred sentence by then Swindon resident judge Robert Pawson, who heard Mullard’s aunt was paying £15,000 to put the man through rehab.

He was rewarded for his progress last March with a 22 month jail sentence suspended for two years. He was ordered to complete 25 rehabilitation days and 200 hours of unpaid work. After he admitted skipping probation appointments he was given another 40 hours’ community service in July.

On Tuesday, Swindon Crown Court was told Mullard had completed around a third of his unpaid work hours - 75 out of 240 – and eight rehabilitation sessions.

And the burglar admitted breaking into another home, this time in Avonmead, Haydon Wick, on September 13 last year.

Prosecutor Mark Ashley said the homeowners had been on holiday at the time. Mullard tried to squeeze through a window, triggering the home CCTV system and sending an alert to the householder’s mobile phone. He abandoned his burglary bid after spotting the CCTV camera and later returned to wipe his fingerprints.

Mullard’s face was recognised by a detective constable and he was arrested after a witness appeal was issued by Wiltshire Police. Mullard, of Stockwood Road, Chippenham, pleaded guilty to burglary and breaching a restraining order when he appeared before Swindon Crown Court via video link from HMP Bullingdon last month.

Defending, Chris Smyth said his client had struggled with drug addiction and mental health. He had experienced a number of family breakdowns, although was supported by his aunt and grandparents.

“They do not shrink from the fact he on the one hand failed and is back before the court but what is indicative of their support is the way despite that they’re still here supporting him,” the barrister said.

Mullard, who only began offending when he was 22, was remorseful. He had a partner and was expecting his firstborn later this year. He had been working as a groundworker before the coronavirus lockdown.  

Judge Taylor said he was encouraged by the fact Mullard had the love and support of his family. He urged the defendant to continue his efforts to exorcise his demons.

Jailing the man for 20 months, he said: “Recovering from an addiction involves ups and down and you must realise yourself unless you overcome all of those issues you are just going to face a lifetime in prison, not least because if you comment another dwelling house burglary you will be a third striker with a mandatory three year minimum [sentence].”

Wiltshire Police issued a number of appeals trying to track Mullard down. Det Con Jared Yalden said: "Despite this man evading arrest for a number of months, our persistent policing which involved numerous enquiries, public appeals and a thorough investigation led us to eventually catching him.

"This case shows that we take all burglaries seriously and will continue to work hard to find those involved.  Basically our message is: if you do the crime, we will find you. 

"I welcome today's result and hope it can now give his victims some closure on what is an unsettling crime."

Wiltshire and Swindon's Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson said: “This is a good result and hopefully will give the victims of this particular break-in some comfort that this man is now off the streets of Wiltshire and Swindon."